Nestle withdraws Maggi from the Indian market after several states banned its sales. But the company continues to maintain that the product is safe.
While addressing the media in Delhi, Nestle’s global CEO Paul Bulcke said that the company decided to withdraw the noodles because “the consumer trust was shaken.” Bulcke added, “Maggi is safe for consumption and we maintain same quality standard all over the world.”
Bulcke also denied reports of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) being added to Maggi. “We are trying to learn why there’s a difference in test results carried out in other labs and ours,” he said. “India is important for Nestle and I am very confident that we will be back as soon as possible” Bulcke told the media.
The food safety regulator FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) came down heavily on Nestle. FSSAI says it found 9 variants of Maggi noodles “unsafe and hazardous” for consumption and ordered Nestle to recall all 9 variants from the market. Nestle has also been asked to stop production, import and sale of Maggi noodles with immediate effect.
The regulator has asked Nestle to submit compliance report on its orders within 3 days. According to FSSAI, Nestle violated labelling regulations on taste enhancer MSG.
On Thursday, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Health Minister JP Nadda assured of strict action if the snack food was found violating the rules. “When I came to know about Maggi issue I directed the department and the FSSAI to look into the facts and initiate action,” Paswan told the press.
Several states banned the sale of Maggi noodles with Delhi leading the way. Delhi, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and Madhya Pradesh have all banned the noodles.
“Gujarat has decided to ban the product for a month,” said Gujarat Health Minister, Nitin Patel.
Uttarakhand banned Maggi after lab-tests found MSG present in some of the samples that were taken for testing. “As the matter concerns public health we lost no time in imposing a ban on the popular food product in Uttarakhand,” said Principal Secretary of Health, Om Prakash.
Delhi government banned Maggi noodles for 15 days on Wednesday. The government said it will take a fresh decision in 15 days after testing the new stock in labs. The decision came after top Nestle officials met Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain. In a press conference Jain said the decision to ban Maggi was taken after excess lead was found in 10 of the 13 samples taken for lab-testing.
“We have banned Maggi for 15 days but we have also ordered that samples of all other brands of noodles will be tested,” Jain said to the media. Jain also said the government will file a case against Nestle India in court as per provisions of the Food Adulteration Act and will compromise on issues relating to health safety.
Not just the state governments, the Army too took the initiative and issued an advisory to its personnel to avoid Maggi noodles. Over one thousand Army and Navy canteens were asked to remove and set aside the existing stock.
Maggi is Nestle’s most popular product and because of this controversy, Nestle stocks took a severe beating. Nestle India’s stock fell by over 10 per cent on Wednesday morning. The controversy began about ten days ago, when Uttar Pradesh Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested some samples and found the presence of MSG and lead more than the permissible limit. Maggi now runs the risk of being pulled off the shelves across several states in the country.
And it’s not just Maggi that is in trouble. High lead content has been found in other brands of noodles as well. Wai Wai Xpress, Reliance Select Instant, Smith and Jones Chicken Masala have been asked to withdraw its stocks from the market.
Celebrities endorsing Maggi are in trouble too. Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta have been slapped with notices by courts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Tamil Nadu consumer forum also sent them a notice for “false representation” of the quality and safety of the noodles.
(With inputs from PTI)